The school district wrapped up this year’s round of community consultations with a “conversation” in Cache Creek on Apr. 12.
Gold Trail is inviting feedback on the topids discussed until May. The summer will be spent putting together a report based on the conversations held in each community, and the public should know the reports’ content by September.
John Ranta, mayor of Cache Creek and parent of school aged children, welcomed the school district to Cache Creek.
“I have an awful lot of sympathy for trustees,” he said, “because your challenges are significant.”
Ranta is married to the Gold Trail Board of Education chair, Carmen Ranta.
He noted that “Cache Creek’s history of schools goes back longer than any municipality in BC.”
Cache Creek was the site of the first school outside the Lower Mainland, in 1874, and “Cache Creek is proud of that history.
“Our district highly values relationships,” said Carmen Ranta. “We’re not here to talk about school closures, but if you want to talk about that, it’s not off topic.”
She said the district takes in five municipalities, 17 First Nation bands and two Regional Districts.
Superintendent Teresa Downs said the district’s top challenges were the readiness of Kindergarten students to enter school, and the completion rates of the teenagers, especially aboriginal males.
“Students who leave with a Dogwood have higher success with jobs and relationships,” she said. “Everything we do is aimed at higher completion.”
Parents listened to the Connected Classrooms and Shared Learning programs, meant to bridge the classroom community in rural schools. While enrolment is expected to decline across BC until 2015, in Gold Trail it is expected to continue until 2017.
Many of the parents present commented positively about the Districts electronic innovations to bring more opportunities to their children, although some were unhappy that the students seemed to be sitting in front of computer monitors for most of the day.
“If Connected Classrooms is working for the kids, I’m all for it,” said one parent.